Friday, May 21, 2010

Crimefest 2010, Day II, Part I: Sex, violence and vuvuzelas

What's a vuvuzela? I'm glad you asked. A vuvuzela (above/right) "is a blowing horn, approximately one metre in length, commonly blown by fans at football matches in South Africa."

I learned about them this morning from Stanley Trollip, one half of the team that writes as Michael Stanley, as we discussed South Africa's upcoming hosting of soccer's World Cup. He says vuvezelas have every chance of driving opposing teams nuts.

In Crimefest 2010 news more directly related to crime fiction, the great Bill James opened this morning's sex and violence panel with the declaration that "I try to smooth [violence] out with style. I think of it as very good boxing journalism ... make it sound like ballet, which it ain't."

That's an apt declaration, and unsurprising from the man who wrote:
"If you knew how to look, a couple of deaths from the past showed now and then in Iles' face."
© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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14 Comments:

Blogger Loren Eaton said...

"I try to smooth [violence] out with style. I think of it as very good boxing journalism ... make it sound like ballet, which it ain't."

This is a great point. One of the many assets of written narratives is that they can imbue almost any action with connotations quite divorced from act itself. Consider how the word choice in William Carlos Williams' "The Use of Force" draws on the imagery of sexual violence in the treating of disease.

May 21, 2010  
Blogger Sean Patrick Reardon said...

The vavuzela looks very similiar to the plastic horns they sell at parades in the U.S. Thanks for the play by play of Crimefest 2010. Sounds like a great time.

May 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, I couldn't open that link, but I'll try again later. Writing about an ugly act in beautiful terms could be an effective way of transmitting the ugliness, I think, if the reader is beguiled by the beauty, struck at the same time by the harshness of the depicted act, then jolted by the irony of that split.

May 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You're welcome, Sean. I should look for a recording of vuvuzelas to understand why its noise strikes such annoyance into the heart of non-South Africans.

May 21, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

"Which it ain't."

Kinda like the (to my mind, idiotic) description of boxing as The Sweet Science.

May 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Who coined that expression? Grantland Rice? A.J. Liebling?

May 21, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Liebling. Good guess.

May 21, 2010  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

could be a useful weapon too by the looks of it.

May 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Not a guess, Linkmeister, but a recollection. My first guess was Grantland Rice, as appropriate for any purple sports prose. But then I thought I recalled having read the attribution to Liebling.

May 22, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, you must have the innocent vuvuzela mixed up with baseball bats or hurleys, subjects of recent discussion here. This particular vuvuzela is plastic, useful for nothing more aggressive than a playful whack in the head. Whether other models are of more lethal materials, I don't know.

May 22, 2010  
Blogger Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Hmmm....Parades = vuvuzelas & toy guns that shoot a piece of cork attached to a short piece of string fastened to the barrell. No wonder I like crime so much. The vuvuzela definitely stung when hit with it, but in a non lethal way.

May 22, 2010  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Peter,

Hmmmm, doesn't seem to be working for me either. This one does, though.

"The Use of Force" actually does the opposite of what you describe, which is also interesting. It infuses an innocuous act with real grittiness. Its an interesting effect.

May 22, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Wow, you've been whacked by a vuvuzela. Will this make you feel like part of the World Cup?

May 22, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Loren. I knew Williams had been a physician. I didn't know what influence this had on his writing.

May 22, 2010  

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